You know, I was SO blown away by the feedback I got from The 3rd Sunday in June that I decided to write a partner for it, since people asked. This takes place only 2 weeks after father's day, and Paige has found out; I didn't write her reaction because honestly? Not big Paige fan...nothing wrong with her, of course, but I don't get into her character as much. I think I just like the family angst thing going on with Chris and Leo and Piper...so.
I used the Martina McBride song "Independence Day" because 1) its fabulous and 2) The chorus was the first thing that popped into my head when I decided to write a follow up; I thought it's really conveyed what I felt Chris felt. If you know the song, the story has nothing to do with child abuse or horrible guilt for Piper or Leo or anything of the sort. It's merely Chris being freed from his secret. Here we go!
Disclaimer: Not mine.
"Let freedom ring
Let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today
Is the day of a reckoning
Let the weak be strong
Let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away
Let the guilty pay
It's Independence Day."
-"Independence Day" Martina McBride
One of the-many-textbook definitions of freedom is defined as "frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve."; one equally fitting for the situation would be the "exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition." Either way, looking back on it, Chris would think amusedly how coincidental it was that it was on July 4th, 2004, when all his secrets would come spilling out.
Not that they hadn't already come out enough for Chris already. Leo had found out a couple weeks before, in a moment of weakness for Chris. Phoebe knew; even Paige knew, because Phoebe couldn't keep a secret to save a life.
But Piper didn't know, and that, to Chris, was most important. He didn't want her treating him differently; her indifference was part of his strength. If he had to worry about her worrying about him in the least, difficult situations could be become deadly. Plus, he didn't want her instinctive concern to prevent him from doing even more than it already did. Because if she tried to warn him against doing things now because she thought they were dangerous, he just knew how bad it would get if she knew he was her son.
Not only that; she had died when he was 14, and it had taken him a really long time to get over it, to build up against that need for her. Her knowing, her possibly wanting to be there for him and play "mom"; it would be too much for him to take when he had to leave and go back to a place where she wasn't.
Of course, the thought had entered his mind that if he could change the course of history by making Wyatt good, then maybe there would be some ripple effect that may save her-even though he knew that it went against all magical ethic he had been raised with. But really, he was at the point in his life that he didn't really care; magical ethic could fuck itself for all it was worth, because it certainly hadn't done its job when it mattered most, like when Wyatt took over or his mother had died. Magical ethic was a joke.
"Chris?" Phoebe stood in his doorway at P3, looking in.
"Hey AnBee..." He said, running his hand through his hair with a tired sigh. She smiled at the nickname; he had begun calling her by it in the past couple weeks, explaining that it was what he had called her in the future; in learning how to speak, he had strung "Aunt" and "Phoebe" together in a jumbled mess that had resulted in "AnBee" and it had just stuck. As he grew more comfortable around her, it started slipping out, and he had sheepishly admitted to it, and it had now just become routine.
She walked into the room, sitting on his bed opposite of the desk Chris was at. "You look frazzled."
He spun in his chair slowly to face her. "It's not too bad. I'm getting a few leads on whoever gets to Wyatt, but so far..." He shook his head with a sigh. "Nothing really to pin down."
"You need to take a break,"
He shook his head, spinning back around to his desk on his swivel chair. "Can't. I have to figure this out, AnBee. I've been here almost 6 months and there's nothing yet...I can't let this go another 6 months. I need to start figuring it out."
"What you need to do is take a break," She repeated, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees. "You're working yourself sick, Chris; you never take a day off. Look, I came to tell you you're invited to come with us tomorrow; we're having a picnic out by the bay, and we're gonna hang out and watch the fireworks."
He shook his head with a chuckle. "AnBee, I think we get more exciting stuff happening on a daily basis around here than fireworks on the 4th."
She scowled. "Hey. This is more for getting together and having a barbecue and being together. And I know I said 'invited', which implied you had a choice. But you don't."
"AnBee, I really don't have time..."
"I'd really hate to get your mother involved..." Her tone was sing-songish but the smile on her face was cunning.
Chris scowled. "You wouldn't."
"Only looking out for you, my dear nephew. Come on! It'll be fun!"
He sighed an almost growl, then repeated himself. "You're evil."
"Only when it's necessary." She quipped now, with a wide grin. "We're figuring we'll head out around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, so don't eat lunch or anything cause we're barbecuing..."
"You've got to be kidding me..." He muttered. "AnBee, I have serious work to do."
She squared at him. "Chris, I swear, to God. I will pull the mom card; I'll tell her. She deserves to know! Hell, she doesn't even know she's pregnant yet!"
"AnBee, please..." He was truly begging her, and the look in his eyes so fierce it stopped her thoughts of telling Piper anymore. She sighed.
"Fine. I wouldn't play the mom card..."
"But you better bet your ass I'll play the dad one, cause he already knows and I know he can get you down there."
Chris scowled at her. "You're not playing fair,"
"Chris, this isn't a game, it's your life. And you're gonna work yourself to death if you keep this up." She stood, bending low to him in his seat, and he felt like he was a child again, being scolded by his Aunt. "And you will take a day off and enjoy it."
"Fine." He growled indignantly.
She smiled, and turned to exit the room, looking back over her shoulder at the doorway. "So we'll see you at about 1, 1:30-ish, okay?"
"Okay..." He grumbled, rising to see her out, standing at the doorway as he watched her walk to the clubs exit. "This is why Aunt Paige is my favorite!"
It was almost 3:30 when the Halliwell's pulled up to a crowded area, cars amassed for a good mile or so. Chris got out of the car, stretching immediately and growling about how not relaxing a jam-packed car was. Phoebe slid him an irritated glance.
"If this is how you are now, I can't imagine what you'll be like in a few years." She muttered so only he could hear her. Leo picked up on it, though, and grinned.
"Aw, I'm sure his favorite Aunt will give into his favorite whim,"
"Well, you'll have to check with Paige on that one, cause apparently she's the one who spoils him like this." Phoebe snapped, earning a sharp grin from Chris.
"Awwww AnBee. You're my favorite too."
"Oh no, don't you try and suck up now..." She replied, but with a grin. She knew already that the baby of the family was going to be spoiled equally all around.
"Hey!" Piper barked from across the parking lot, just out of hearing range. "Anybody want to help me?!"
All 3 looked up, and saw Piper and Paige trying to juggle an array of lawn chairs, coolers, blankets and Wyatt, about 100 or so feet in front of them. Sheepishly, they bowed their heads and headed towards the women.
"Here, let me get that." Chris grabbed at a few lawn chairs and the cooler from Piper. "Just take Wyatt."
She flushed, surprised and flattered. "Well...thank you Chris."
"No problem." He ducked his head and walked away and she stared quizzically after him. He had been acting so weird lately. A little more tactful, a little less brash. It was definitely an improved side of him; he didn't seem as snappy or high strung.
"Does Chris seem different to you lately?" She turned to Paige, who looked toward him, and avoided her older sister's gaze.
"Not really." Paige still didn't look at her sister. "Hey, look; that looks like a good spot." She took off toward a vacant area ahead, near the water, leaving Piper behind, a bewildered look on her face.
She looked at her son, his head resting on her shoulder lazily. It was mid-afternoon, and he had just woken from his nap. His blue eyes gazed up into hers. "Well, kid I guess it's just me and you for now. Let's go check out this spot."
An hour later, they had settled in among the many families of the bay's shore. No one around them could've known how different they were from themselves; today, it didn't really matter.
The sisters sat in lounge chairs, sunglasses on in bikini tops, sunning themselves. Piper was trying to keep Wyatt occupied at the same time, chasing him around and making him giggle and laugh.
Leo and Chris were a stone's throw away at a barbecue pit, roasting various picnic eats, and Phoebe watched them; they would never admit it, in their macho male minds, but they were bonding.
"...so, you enjoyin' your day off?" Leo asked, staring at the grill as he spoke.
Chris grinned somewhat sardonically, poking at the fire. "Truth or fiction?"
"I mean, it's nice to spend the day with you all. But really? I get jittery when I'm not working. Like, I know what I need to get done and knowing I could be doing instead of relaxing, I dunno. Just...it's nice, I guess."
"Oh, you guess, huh?" Leo responded, a smile on his face, which Chris reciprocated. Phoebe was watching them, inconspicuously as so not to attract Piper's attention, and noticed the men had the same toothy, dazzling grin. "Well," Leo continued. "We're all pretty glad you're here, if that means anything."
Chris nodded. "It does, of course. Like I said, I love spending time with you all, but don't get me wrong; I wasn't exactly given a free choice in the matter."
Leo made a mental note of how Chris had mentioned "loving" spending time over it just being nice and targeted the last comment. "How do you mean?"
"How do I mean? She played the dad card!" He flushed, realizing what he'd said; although he had called Leo "Dad" once, didn't mean he was comfortable using it all the time. But he moved on quickly enough. "Well, I mean, first she threatened to tell Piper, but then she settled for you..."
"Settled, hm?" Leo chuckled. "Well, she's kind of right; I would've dragged you here too."
"I know," Chris sighed.
Plus, Leo thought to himself, I think you wanted to be here. "Oh well, though. It's a nice day at least," He looked to the sky, squinting, before grabbing a plate and filling it with the cooked pieces of meat. "Nice and clear; the fireworks will be great."
Chris snorted. "What is with all the obsession with fireworks? I mean, we see more excitement and pyrotechnics in one day at the Manor than here."
"What's with the animosity towards them?" Leo rounded on him, turning it around. "I mean, I know we probably dragged you to enough of them growing up, right?"
"I don't want to talk about it." Chris growled. "I'm just saying..."
"And I'm just saying to relax and enjoy; admit to having fun, Chris. Whatever might get Wyatt doesn't win because you enjoy yourself."
"Just give me the meat." Chris grabbed for one of the plates of food. "Come on, we'd better get over there. We're starting to get looks."
Night fell, and the Halliwell family had enjoyed the day together, without an interruption from demons or other thing that would ever put their lives in danger or make them anything other than pleasant.
Chris had pulled himself away from the family, though, for the first time all day. He was enjoying himself, more than he'd ever admit to his father or aunts, but it was still difficult to accept.
This was the first time in 8 years that he would see fireworks.
Fireworks had always been his mother's thing; she was insistent upon her children being raised with a sense of normalcy, and fireworks, apparently, were apart of childhood. He agreed, to a point; fireworks were something that inspired awe and imagination in children at a young age. But, he and his brother were never normal children, and there was no shortage of magical activity that would not have stewed some sort of awe, imagination or any other wonderful attribute that seemed to be exclusive to a child's mind.
Nevertheless; his mother was adamant that they see fireworks, every 4th of July and New Years. Once, when he was 10, she had dragged him and his brother, along with his aunts and cousins of course, to Disneyland; the fireworks show was a must see at the end of the night. Chris remembered wanting to roll his eyes, groan and object like Wyatt had been so inclined to do, but the look on his mothers face had stopped him and he had just gone with it.
Her face showed both he and his older brother that this was not just some other show to see for the day, not just another thing to say they had done. This was important to her; not only did it bring a sense of normalcy to their lives, but these shows would remind her of her childhood, with her mother and sisters. They reminded her of a time when they were innocent, and sheltered, and didn't have to worry about demons, magical attacks and death all around them.
So they kept their mouth's shut and told their mother how much they'd enjoyed it all. It really had been totally worth the smile of satisfaction on her face; where their mother was concerned, well, nothing could really go wrong.
That is, until she was murdered; on a cool, March day, in cold blood, that demon had taken so much away from them. They no longer wanted to act like they were normal; not that they really had ever acted like it anyway. Both the Halliwell brothers had gone to Magic School, had used magic in their everyday lives. But they would no longer pretend that they were like everyone else. Their mother had been ripped from their lives, and with her went that desire for them to blend in.
Wyatt swore revenge, immediately; it was what history would refer to as the beginning of the end. Chris mourned differently; he swore off anything that would remind him of her never-ending quest to be normal, almost anything that reminded him of her. Maybe if they hadn't been trying to be so normal, they would've been better prepared, better defended. She wouldn't have died like an innocent, stabbed in their home, and left helpless to die.
That past was full of maybes though, and when it came down to it, they really didn't matter; Chris now sat on a large boulder over-looking the bay, almost frightened to watch the fireworks. He could never explain to Leo that it wasn't the fireworks themselves that we so offensive to him, but what they meant to him. They had been her thing, something that always held great childhood memories for her, times she wanted her children to have as well. She was the only reason Chris or Wyatt had ever really enjoyed them at all.
Because they had been such a family thing, and that was what he was shying away from all today. When he was little, his mother would climb onto this exact rock, her boys sitting next to her and watch as the city of San Francisco put on a beautiful light show. And, for the first time, in 8 years, he'd get to spend the 4th with her. He didn't know what to do.
"It's nice, isn't it?"
He spun, almost falling off the rock, meeting her gaze. She was alone, surprisingly, no one around for a ways; the rock was partially hidden, large, leafy trees shielding it from those who weren't really looking for it. She stood there with a small, surprised smile on her face.
"Piper! Hey...um..."He looked around, trying to think of an excuse for being at the rock, and cursing himself silently for forgetting she would come here; it was his grandmother who had discovered the secret place, one where Piper and her sisters had spent much of their childhood exploring and playing. And he had set himself up for an awkward, alone moment with her, on the one day he really didn't want it.
"Hey. We were wondering where you wandered off to."
"Yeah...I just. Needed a walk. Alone." Crap. "Not that I wasn't having a good time with everybody, it's just...it's hard. Kind of. You know what, I'm just gonna go---"
"No, don't let me kick you out of your place." She said with a smile. "But...would you mind if I jumped on there too?"
He eyed her, considering what this would lead to. Her hair was tied back in a loose ponytail, and she looked weary from a day of taking care of a toddler. He couldn't help but remembering a time when the two of them had laid on the rock, him much smaller than she, curled up in her embrace as they watched the night sky light up. He smiled.
"No, come on up." He scooted a few feet to the side, enough for her to jump up and sat, his knees tucked up to his chest and his arms resting on them. "So what are you doing over here?"
"Oh I just...needed a walk." She smiled as she echoed him. "What about you? What made you want to get away?"
"It's...difficult to explain." He spoke hesitantly. No matter if she knew who he truly was or not, that mom stare always would intimidate him. He sighed. "It's just...fireworks, they were kind of a thing with my mom and my brother and," He shook his head. "Never mind. The show's about to start anyway."
"In like 20 minutes, Chris; but something tells me you knew that."
"You know, I'm just gonna get out of here..." He hopped off the rock, dusting himself off and turning to leave. But Piper had seen a flicker of something flash across his face, a hint that she was getting somewhere, and she was reluctant to give in so easily.
"Why do you do that? Just turn and run, when things get to be the least bit personal?" She asked, stopping him in his tracks. She heard him sigh loudly and turn, his gaze now exasperated.
"You already know the answer to that Piper; Future--"
"Consequences, I know, and dammit! I'm so sick of hearing that Chris, cause I have a feeling you know I'm not completely clueless as well. I think you know a lot more about me than you let on. I also think that there is something huge here going on, because my sisters and ex-husband are treating you a lot differently than they were a month ago." Her tone was accusatory, and he dropped his head as she railed on.
He couldn't stand to be chastised by her! Ever since he was a little boy, whenever she started to yell was when he gave in, because she hardly ever yelled and when she did, he knew she meant business. Well, there was a fire in her eyes right now, and a scowl on her face and he knew she meant business; and he sure didn't want to be the reason her night was ruined, when it was a night she looked forward to all year.
Begrudgingly, he climbed back onto the rock. He looked at her, and she could see the apprehensiveness in his eyes, the fear and uncertainty and it shook her to her core. Whatever Chris was keeping from her was big; maybe too big for her to really want to know.
"My mother," He began slowly, clearing his throat. "She loved fireworks. It was a mix between good memories from her childhood, and her need to make sure we had those good, normal experiences too; instead of just vanquishing demons and everything."
"My brother and I." He supplied. Her stomach began to twist; Chris licked his lips and continued, weighing the risk quickly in his head. He had thought about telling her the truth, how he would tell her and exactly what he would tell her; but then he thought back to a conversation he had with Bianca, something she'd said right before he came back, when they were in the attic at the Manor.
"Look, just remember: Protect baby Wyatt, and you protect The Charmed Ones. Keep them alive for our future."
He had wondered, as he remembered what she had told him, why was he worried about future consequences when one thing he wanted to change was to keep them from dying? Even though he knew he shouldn't, he didn't really think he had a choice anymore.
"When she...when I was 14, she died, and ever since then, I can't watch them. Not without her."
"She...? Oh Chris...I'm sorry." Her tone was sympathetic. "I didn't mean to push."
"No, it's...it's alright. It just took me a long time to get over it." He smiled nostalgically. "I was kind of a momma's boy."
He just smiled at her and moved on without really answering. "How long did it take you to get over your mother's death?"
Piper's face clouded over. "Oh...awhile. Probably not as long as you though; I was so young...but I miss her very much, even now."
He nodded, understanding. "So, if you had a chance to go back to the future, would you want to tell her who you were? Get to know her, and grow close to her? Even if you knew you were going to have to go back to a reality without her? Would it be worth it for you?"
"Well, no," Piper answered carefully, sensing a hidden agenda behind his questions. "Because of future consequences, Chris; remember your favorite mantra? That and...if she wasn't going to be here...well, if it wasn't against all the rules, then I think I would want to be close to her, for even that brief time, because I didn't really get that relationship with her as a little girl."
"Really?" He asked, surprised.
"But you have to take into account, I was really young when she was killed, Chris. I hardly have any memories of her; you probably have tons of memories of your mother."
"Yeah," He whispered. "She was...hm." He smiled. "She was something."
"You really loved her."
He looked at her quizzically. "She was my mother, Piper."
"Well, I know." She replied sheepishly. "And as a mother, can I give you my prerogative?"
"Well," She began carefully. She watched him gazing at her, recognized the look in his eyes as one of absolute trust, and knew exactly what his hidden agenda had been. She fought to keep her voice from shaking, even though she was pretty sure he thought she had picked up on his hints. If momma didn't raise no fool, than momma couldn't have been much of one herself.
"As a mother, I would want to know my child. I would want that child to be happy, and comfortable, and not feel like an outsider in their own home. I would want them to know, that even though they may or may not have been born yet, I loved them, no matter what, because that's just how it works. You love your kids, instantaneously and unconditionally. And since you came back to change the future for the better, maybe that includes saving her, hm? Since you're saving Wyatt from being bad, and maybe," She swallowed hard, taking a deep breath. "Since he may have had something to do with her death, you're supposed to stop it from happening? But I think you already thought about that, didn't you Chris?"
He licked his lip sheepishly, swallowing hard. "I..."
He was interrupted as a firework shot through the air, exploding in a bright yellow umbrella of color, tendrils of fire falling down as they crackled in the quiet night sky. Piper smiled.
"Looks like the shows started."
He nodded, and shut his mouth, then lowered his back to the surface of the rock, placing on arm behind his head and the other on his belly. Piper did the same, less than a foot from him on the same rock, merely soaking in the atmosphere of one of her favorite things on earth.
About half way through, though, she glanced over at him, noticing that he was trying to control his breathing, and she could see tears glistening in the corners of his eyes. Her hand snaked from her behind her head and took his from his belly; the rise and fall of his chest evened out.
"...i'm sorry I lied to you." He whispered.
She smiled, and whispered back. "I never asked; not specifically, at least."
"I'm still sorry,"
She squeezed his hand. "Well, then, I get to be 100 times more sorry." She swallowed hard, tears now forming in her own eyes. "I'm sorry I treated you so horribly. I didn't mean any of the things I said..."
"Yes, you did." Chris interrupted in a whisper. "But it wasn't because you hated me or anything, as a person. You disliked me a whole lot, because of the lying, but I know it's because you love your family so much; you were just protecting them. I know that."
"In your head; but I remember your face when I said some of those things, Chris. If I'd have known," She whispered as she began to cry softly.
Silence fell between them again, Piper's sniffles intermittent. Neither had looked at each other since the show had started, save for the glance Piper had shot him minutes earlier. She moved a little closer to him now, their bodies nearly touching.
"Am I...are you going to be born soon?"
She saw a small smile curve onto his face, though he fought it. "Yes."
"And Leo, Paige, Phoebe-they all know?"
His face fell apologetically. "I'm sorry..."
"Stop that. Stop apologizing, it's really-"
"It's your favorite part." He interrupted her. Within a second, the amount of fireworks in the sky quadrupled and the sky lit up for miles. Her eyes were wide, and for the first time in the 10 minute show, Chris felt the courage to look at her.
He saw the tear tracks running down the side of her face, and saw her laughing soundlessly as she watched the end of one of the highlights of her year. He smiled softly then; she looked so young, so carefree, and so happy! His heart wrenched in his chest.
"I have missed you so much," He whispered suddenly, his voice breaking, surprising himself at the admission.
The fireworks faded into the night, but the smoke remained, and the mother and son could hear distant cheers on the waterfront from satisfied families. Piper sat up, looking down at Chris, who suddenly looked so afraid.
Her hand let go of his and lightly caressed his cheek for a moment, the impulsive motherly gesture surprising both of them. "You don't have to anymore, Chris. We're gonna make this right."
He was only able to nod, swallowing the rising sob in his throat as he rose to a sitting position.
"I promise, Chris." She hugged him. "We're going to fix this. And all of this, all of this past bad stuff, it'll be just a bad dream. I swear, for the both of you."
"Thank you." He got out, returning the hug. They held it for a few moments, before separating. She looked at him straight in the face.
"You have your father's eyes." She said fondly, and he smiled sheepishly.
"Yeah," He fiddled with his hands and sleeves. "But the rest is all you."
She laughed. "Oh, am I in trouble or what!" She hopped down off the rock, lending a hand to help him down. He merely grinned, and orbed immediately 5 feet in front of her, near the path leading back to the barbecue pit. "Definitely in for a load of trouble."
"Nah," He said now, the grin wide on his face, tears now gone from his eyes. "I'm the good one."
"Oh yeah, I'm sure you're just a little angel."
He smiled devilishly. "Well, half of one."
"Oh you," She swatted at his head playfully, as only a mother can, and walked in front of him a few paces to lead the way as he chuckled behind her.
He grinned as he watched her lead the way, swiveling her head around with a smile to make sure he wasn't too far back, and he realized something.
His chest was no longer tight; his mind was no longer racing, his shoulders no longer felt heavy and that slight, constant irritation of a headache was gone. He smiled; for the first time since he was 14, he wasn't scared, or nervous, or stressed out, or horribly morose-for the first time since he was 14...he was free.
the end :)
A/N: Hope everyone liked it! Please r&r! And for anyone who was wondering, Bianca's quote is from the episode Chris-Crossed. Have a good night all!